Supporting Employees in the Work Environment of Today and the Future

Practical Tips from the ACOEM Webinar

In a webinar hosted by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the expert presenters shared the trends and concerns they’ve experienced in workplace health and safety under the COVID-19 pandemic. The panelists also responded to common trends and issues in a post-COVID work environment, offering practical strategies to resolve conflicts and support employees at all levels.

Many valuable suggestions were provided in the webinar, titled “Preparing Current and Future Workplaces for Pandemic’s Impacts on Behavioral Health.” We wanted to share a few of these recommended practices with you to help you support and ensure the safety of your teams whether they are working from home or preparing to return to the office.

1. Communicate updates and accurate health information in a consistent and timely manner.

Your employees are receiving a great deal of information from a wide variety of sources on a daily basis – from the news and media to social media and friends and family. Besides being overwhelming, all of those details are often conflicting and confusing. One important way to help your team members is by providing consistent, accurate information when they need it, including safety practices at your workplace and expectations for team members during this transitional time. Clear communication allows your team to stay unified while bringing clarity and even some comfort to your employees as they know what to expect.

2. Provide employees with coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety.

This is a challenging time for many, with the dangers and unknowns of COVID-19 compounded by a change in working conditions and fears about job security and finances for the future. As an employer, you can help your employees manage the stress and anxiety these situations create by providing coping strategies and activities that are shown to provide mental health benefits. In one of our recent posts, we shared a few strategies for managing stress that can be helpful; practical tips such as making time for exercise can be beneficial reminders for your team members at home and at the office.

3. Encourage engagement and collaboration between team members.

Especially for those who are working remotely and who will continue to work from home into the future, isolation can be a real concern in terms of well-being. Engagement activities that encourage employees to spend time together, even virtually, can help them feel less alone even while working apart from each other. At the same time, it’s important to ensure that these collaborative opportunities are helpful to employees without creating additional pressure. Too many virtual meetings can be excessively draining for some individuals, causing what is now known as “Zoom fatigue.” Increased one-on-one engagements with managers can also help employees better manage during this challenging time.

There are many ways to support your team members in light of COVID-19, whether you plan to keep your workforce more remote or plan to return to the office in the near future. The strategies above are just a few methods to consider in your plan to create a physically and psychologically safe work environment for your employees. To learn more and see the rest of the content, you can watch the full webinar online.